Biophotonics of Native Silk Fibrils

Ulyana Shimanovich, Dorothea Pinotsi, Klimentiy Shimanovich, Na Yu, Sreenath Bolisetty, Jozef Adamcik, Raffaele Mezzenga, Jerome Charmet, Fritz Vollrath, Ehud Gazit, Christopher M. Dobson, Gabriele Kaminski Schierle, Chris Holland, Clemens F. Kaminski, Tuomas P.J. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Native silk fibroin (NSF) is a unique biomaterial with extraordinary mechanical and biochemical properties. These key characteristics are directly associated with the physical transformation of unstructured, soluble NSF into highly organized nano- and microscale fibrils rich in β-sheet content. Here, it is shown that this NSF fibrillation process is accompanied by the development of intrinsic fluorescence in the visible range, upon near-UV excitation, a phenomenon that has not been investigated in detail to date. Here, the optical and fluorescence characteristics of NSF fibrils are probed and a route for potential applications in the field of self-assembled optically active biomaterials and systems is explored. In particular, it is demonstrated that NSF can be structured into autofluorescent microcapsules with a controllable level of β-sheet content and fluorescence properties. Furthermore, a facile and efficient fabrication route that permits arbitrary patterns of NSF microcapsules to be deposited on substrates under ambient conditions is shown. The resulting fluorescent NSF patterns display a high level of photostability. These results demonstrate the potential of using native silk as a new class of biocompatible photonic material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700295
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • biomaterials
  • intrinsic fluorescence
  • microfluidics
  • native silk fibroin
  • protein fibers


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